Hi ct girl,
You are going through a lot right now and undoubtedly had a hard time living as a kid with a mother who had a mental illness.
I'm wondering if you mother is a senior citizen who can have some kind of assistance given her like someone to come to her house or apartment to talk with her during the day.
Has she ever taken medication? Upwards of 50 percent of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia have a symptom called anosognosia which is the lack of awareness that they have an illness. So because they don't think they're sick they don't take the medication or stay in treatment.
Can your mother otherwise take care of herself? Where I live there is a residence for older adults who have mental illnesses who are cared for by staff who monitor their medication.
So many people in your shoes have written in to the Connection here over the past four years that I've been the Community leader for this web site. I like to treat each situation on its own although some of what I said to the other people could apply to you.
The criteria for involuntary treatment with medication or an involuntary stay at a psych hospital for nearly every state in the U.S. is that a person is an immediate danger to herself or someone else. Some states have Assertive Community Treatment (ACT teams, the Baker Act, the name varies for each state but is basically Asssertive Community Treatment) where you can apply to a judge to have your loved one legally required to take medication and court mandated to be in treatment.
Thus I can tell you that if you feel your mother's condition has deteriorated to the point where she can't take care of herself, is wandering aimlessly and would be a target to be a victim of some kind of crime:
I would look into how you could get forced treatment for your mother. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter in your city or town will be able to advise you on where to take your mother and what you can do. Call their national hotline at (800) 950-NAMI (6264) to get the name and phone number of your local chapter.
Your mother is hurting. Please understand this is not how your mother would choose to be, it is her illness causing her to behave this way. I think you understand this. Not everyone who has a mental illness is at a good place in their lives.
So I would try to get her help even if you are afraid of her response to you. Right now you have no contact with her, and if you tried to get her help and she refused contact with you after your attempt to help, you would be in the same boat.
Thus I would take action now even if that involves trying to get some involuntary treatment. Are you an only child? Do you have a brother or sister or aunt or uncle who could help you in this regard?
You could certainly in my opinion make the case that your mother is a danger to herself or at least putting herself in danger by wandering around aimlessly, especially if she is 50 or older and especially if she is a senior citizen.
Call your local NAMI. Its members will support you and give you more advice than I could give you alone on this web site. The will know about the ACT laws in your state.
In closing I want to say I know how hard this is for you.